By Dhananjay Devasper
Indian and Pakistani fans from not just the two countries but expats spanning the length and breadth of the world at flown into Colombo just to see the cricket’s biggest rivalry at the Premadasa Stadium on Sunday. No cricket match has aura, buzz and electric atmosphere that of an India-Pakistan match – not even the Ashes. India have an all-win record across different formats against Pakistan. But Pakistan had a critical win against India in the warm-up game before the start of the 2012 T20 World Cup.
The stage was set for a cracker of a game. Pakistan looked dangerous in the first two overs, and the body language of some of the Indians showed unmistakable concern. But the much maligned Indian bowling unit quickly got its act together and kept chipping away at Pakistan. Pakistan imploded spectacularly as wickets fell at regular intervals. India kept the run-rate down, and in the end, a mere 128 runs was all that Pakistan could manage. The score was unlikely to test the Indians, unless the much-vaunted India batting imitated their Pakistani counterparts.
The start was crucial for both teams. Pakistan started their attack with Raza Hasan and had instant success. Gautam Gambhir went for a duck and the pressure was on India. The pressure was now on Virender Sehwag to deliver. He hadn’t done himself any favours earlier, by dropping Mohammed Hafeez when India were fielding. However he more than made up for it with an innings of 29 and a partnership of 74 runs with Virat Kohli that calmed Indian nerves.
But the day belonged to Virat Kohli. After picking up a wicket with his innocuous medium-pacers, he did what he is known best to do - score runs for India in big-match and high-pressure situations. Though he did give Pakistan a couple of chances, there’s no denying that he is in supreme form at this moment. He yet again reaffirmed the fact that he is currently India’s best player, especially in crucial matches. Among all his contemporaries, he seems to have the best temperament for any match situation. He is also a fierce competitor and counter puncher, when backed into a corner, thereby making him India’s prized possession.
Yuvraj Singh finally got his act together. Two wickets, a run out and a no-pressure outing with the bat is welcome news when you are going through a terrible run in the World Cup. India will be hoping that these performances continue.
Faced with the prospect of exiting from the tournament at the start of this match, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, would have heaved a sigh of relief. He’s going to need consistent efforts like these when India takes on South Africa on Tuesday. The Group is wide open for the 2nd semi-finalist slot and Super Sunday has just ensured a Terrific Tuesday on the cards.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an "IT guy" by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)